Switzerland withdraws authorisation of E171 (titanium dioxide) in food

The Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) announced on Wednesday 9 March that Switzerland will transpose the EU ban on E171 in food into Swiss law. The Swiss ban on E171 in food entered into force on 15 March 2022 and provided for a scrutiny period of six months which ended on 15 September 2022.

Until 15 September 2022, food containing E171 was allowed to be produced and marketed in Switzerland. After this date, food products containing E171 may still be marketed until the expiry of the product’s shelf life.

The Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association (TDMA) finds it regrettable that Switzerland has followed the EU decision to ban E171 in food, especially as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found no conclusive evidence showing harmful effects from the intake of E171. The TDMA made available its preliminary observations regarding the EFSA opinion on 17 September 2021.

The TDMA continues to firmly stand behind the safety of titanium dioxide in all intended applications and it is investing in new science to address the uncertainties raised by the 2021 EFSA opinion on E171.

Background on the EU ban of E171 in the food

The European Commission withdrew the EU approval for the use of titanium dioxide in food as the colourant E171 on 18 January 2022. The Regulation, which came into force on 7 February 2022, is based on the EFSA opinion published 6 May 2021 concluding that E171 can no longer be considered safe.

The EFSA assessment did not conclude that E171 is genotoxic but identified uncertainties with a need to further investigate the effects of the substance. The TDMA will continue to engage with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that a full and transparent review is conducted using all available data and best practices.

This article was updated following the Swiss ban on E171 coming into force in 2022.